If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1962


Has the Indian invasion of Goa, a resort to force by a self-proclaimed neutral pacifist country, disenchanted you?

I have been saddened that Prime Minister Nehru was persuaded by his Defense Minister, Mr. Krishna Menon, to use force in a situation that should have been handled peacefully. However, in a world from which colonialism is disappearing, it was hardly to be expected that Portugal would be allowed to hold on to these little pieces of territory in which the majority of the people are Indians.


What would be your solution to the almost annual New York transit crisis when Mike Quill, whom the New York Times called a "demagogue," makes demands of a 32-hour workweek and threatens to pull subway workers out on strike?

I would begin now to discuss the real situation with Mr. Quill. I would state quite openly that a 32-hour week is not the answer to the need for full employment. There must first be a full understanding on the part of government, management, and labor of the problems involved. A careful study should be made, and if necessary, labor should be called in on the higher levels. Leaving this question to be met at a time of crisis is not a real solution.


Specifically, what can the average housewife do to make a contribution to the peace race?

The average housewife can be a force in her own community, so that the community may be a force in the nation. She can join the organizations actually working for peace and better understanding in the world. She can be active in her own political party and see to it that the representatives elected to office are those who will work for measures to prevent war.


You were quoted recently as saying that 80 per cent of West Germany’s officials are ex-Nazis. How is it possible to have that high a percentage in a country supposedly denazified after World War II?

I think you have to look at the whole past of Germany. The type of education has created a very docile and unquestioning people, who accept what they are told. Today, you will find few Germans who really approve of Hitler or who acknowledge that they ever belonged to the Nazi party; but it is perfectly evident that a great many German people accepted the regime and made no protests, probably because they felt protests were futile. Still, they must be considered as having been acquiescent, at least, to the Hitler regime. After the war, the small and routine public servant was the only person available to carry on. And reliable sources assure me that about 80 per cent of the old government officials still retain their positions, or have resumed them since the war.


Do you think the chance of losing air bases in the Azores is too high a price to pay for joining the UN in condemning Portugal for her colonial policies in Africa?

No. I doubt if we will lose our air bases; but even if we do, these bases are not as important as they were before the age of missiles. It is quite obvious that we cannot uphold the practice of colonialism.


Many Democrats I know are saying President Kennedy is as conservative as Herbert Hoover. As a liberal, have you been disappointed in his first year?

No. President Kennedy has achieved a number of successes, though two important objectives were not reached. No comprehensive bill covering our educational difficulties was passed, and no medical care was provided for older citizens. I feel, on the whole, his first year in office has been successful in the domestic field. In the foreign field, we had one real failure—which was largely an inherited situation—in the Cuban invasion. In other parts of the world, I think we have done extremely well.


How complete and unbiased is our world-news coverage? Would our newspapers ever tell us if people were escaping from West Berlin into East Berlin, or report anything positive about Red China?

I think our world-news coverage is fairly complete and unbiased. I am quite sure that if there were a substantial movement of people from West Berlin to East Berlin, we would hear about it, either from our own press or from the British papers. It is very difficult for our papers to report anything correctly about Red China, because we have no representatives of the press or diplomatic service there. But unbiased news can be obtained from many travelers and from Canadian and British sources.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1962

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 89, April 1962

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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